“We fell in love again”
Two people who were lovebirds as teenagers have finally married, six decades after their parents called off their engagement.
Although they went through a torturous journey before their wedding, Len Allbrighton, 79, and Jeanette Steer, 78, say they are now happier than they have ever been.
The couple first met in 1963 when Len was 19 and Jeanette was 18.
They were trainee nurses at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight, UK, and said they fell in love at first sight.
A few months after they met, Len asked her to marry him and Jeanette accepted his proposal.
He moved to Australia, planning to buy land and build a house for them once they were married.
However, the age of consent at the time was 21 and Jeanette was three years too young.
His mother and father broke off their marriage and Len received a heartbreaking letter from her calling off the engagement while he was living away.
Over the next 50 years, Len married a woman in Australia, had three children, divorced and moved to Stevenage where he worked as a district nurse.
Jeanette, meanwhile, stayed on the Isle of Wight to also become a nurse, then married a naval officer and had two children.
She was retired and still with her husband when Len decided to track down his old flame by driving to Newport and looking up her address using the local library’s voters list.
He said: “I was intimidated, not knowing what her reaction would be or if I would even see her.
‘I went there by chance. It wasn’t an easy place to find but I did.
“I just hoped she was okay – I didn’t expect anything else.”
Len went to her garden fence and looked into her house. Jeanette – not recognizing him 52 years older and sporting a beard asked who he was.
“I almost died when I realized it was him standing by my garden fence.
“I was happy he looked at me. I thought about him a lot back then.
After talking to him, she fired her old flame and told her husband when asked that he was a stranger asking for directions.
Two years later, Jeanette’s husband died of cancer, and she contacted Len using an address he had included on a Christmas card he had sent her the previous year.
In 2018 she agreed to move to Stevenage to live with him, and last year Len again got down on his knees and asked her to marry him.
Their wedding took place on February 11, 2023 with new matching rings and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attest to it.
Jeanette said: “Married life is fantastic – it couldn’t be better.
“It’s nice to have someone who treats me with respect. I like to do anything and everything with Len.
Her new husband said: “We fell in love again.
“We read poems to each other and exchanged rings – I got emotional reading mine.
“I was overwhelmed with my love for her.”